Varieties of context and informal entrepreneurship: entrepreneurial activities of migrant youths in rural Ghana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


External organisations

  • University of Leicester
  • University of Sheffield


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the multi-faceted contexts, which influence the motives, decisions and practices of migrant youth entrepreneurs to engage in informal entrepreneurship within a developing economy context. Moreover, the paper aims to explore the under-researched linkages between migration and informal entrepreneurship.

Design/methodology/approach –Inductive, qualitative field data from a migrant destination, the Ashanti Region in Ghana is examined and analysed. This includes 15 individual interviews with MYEs who hails from 12 communities in the three northern regions of Ghana. In this paper, we introduce a narrative-based approach, which has previously been under-employed within empirical studies of informal entrepreneurship.

Findings – Our findings underline the complex array of opportunities and challenges, which influence individual decisions to engage in informal entrepreneurship. The findings highlight the importance of not only economic rationales but also non-economic rationales for engaging in informal entrepreneurship. The findings demonstrate how a cocktail of interplaying contextual factors in Sub-Saharan Africa explains the prevalence of youth migrants engaging in informal entrepreneurship.

Originality/value – The fine-grained discussion of the findings of this study contributes explicitly to theory by underscoring the importance of taking into account the diversity of informal entrepreneurship activities and theoretically demonstrating the need to look beyond narrow economic explanations for why individuals engage in informal entrepreneurship. Taking a more holistic approach to explaining motivations for engaging in informal entrepreneurship, enables more nuanced understandings of the importance of non-economic rationales for individuals, located in specific contextual settings.


Original languageEnglish
Article numberIJEBR-02-2018-0109
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research
Publication statusPublished - 13 Aug 2019


  • context, embeddedness, informal entrepreneurship, migration, Sub-Saharan Africa, youth